Eat to Live - Critical summary review - Joel Fuhrman

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Eat to Live - critical summary review

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Health & Diet

This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss

Available for: Read online, read in our mobile apps for iPhone/Android and send in PDF/EPUB/MOBI to Amazon Kindle.

ISBN: 031612091X

Publisher: Little Brown Spark

Critical summary review

Have you been struggling to lose weight for a long time? Have you tried some diets after which you quickly regained all the pounds that you lost? Do you avoid diets because you associate them with constant hunger? The book ‘’Eat to Live’’ by Dr. Joel Fuhrman changes these and many other common misconceptions about diets. It offers a six-week dieting plan that will make you lose a substantial amount of weight by eating lots of good-tasting food. Furthermore, it will make you feel better emotionally and physically. So, get ready to learn how to commit to it!

Obesity from various angles 

    In the United States, people spend more than $110 million per day on various diet plans. Despite this, the majority of them stay overweight and undernourished, making obesity the number one health problem in the country. Since it causes other conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, obesity is also a major cause of early mortality in America. As Dr. Fuhrman emphasizes, ‘’Obesity is not just a cosmetic issue - extra weight leads to an earlier death, as many studies confirm.” Unfortunately, most Americans don’t realize that the food they eat is as harmful to their health as smoking is. Health studies have shown that there is a direct link between body weight and mortality. The general rule is: the leaner you are, the longer you’ll live. In Dr. Fuhrman’s words, ‘’The longer your waistline, the shorter your lifeline.’’ 

An improper understanding of obesity means people who suffer from it do not know how to manage it adequately. Many spend enormous amounts of money on ineffective nutritional plans, while others think weight loss operations will solve the problem. What many don't know is that surgical treatment for obesity causes various nutritional and metabolic complications and many other side effects, even death. Those who are obese also tend to spend money on medication for weight loss without knowing their toxic side effects. 

Unlike many other diseases, obesity is curable if you know its true cause. The leading cause of obesity is the consumption of nutrient-deficient, high-calorie food, often called junk food. Americans were among the first people worldwide who mass-produced and popularized this type of food, and, consequently, among the first to enjoy it the most. 

We eat food so that it can supply us with nutrients and calories (energy). Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are sources of energy, while sources of nutrients are vitamins, minerals, fibers, and phytochemicals. The most effective weapon in fighting obesity is food that has a high proportion of nutrients. Most importantly, eating large quantities of high-nutrient foods leads to optimal health and permanent weight control. 

The reasons not to eat refined foods

    The food that is on the table the most is usually the one that is deficient in fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Take bread and pasta as an example - most of the nutrients they contain are lost in processing. The process of making white flour includes removing the nutrient-rich outer cover from the whole wheat. Therefore, every time you eat bread or pasta, you deprive your body of nutrients essential for its normal functioning. Medical investigations clearly show that consuming processed food causes obesity and increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. If you want to lose weight and protect yourself from many diseases, the most important foods to avoid are processed foods: condiments, candy, snacks, and baked goods, whether they are fat-free or not.

    Refined sugars (white and brown sugar, milk sugar, honey, bottled fruit juices) are also deficient in nutrients. Eating fresh fruit will satisfy your craving for sugar. Keep in mind not to substitute processed fruit juices for fruit. They don't even have 10% of the nutrients present in the fresh fruit. On the other hand, fresh fruit is rich in nutrients and, as studies confirm, fruit consumption protects us against cancer more than any other food. 

    A few decades ago, people living in the Mediterranean were lean and free from heart disease. At that time, almost half of their caloric intake came from olive oil, and the rest of the diet consisted mostly of fruits, vegetables, beans, and some fish. Americans misinterpret the fact the Mediterranean people weren’t overweight by accepting that olive oil is healthy.  However, refined or extracted oils, including olive oil, are rich in calories and low in nutrients. If you are thin and physically active, you can use one tablespoon of olive oil per day as a dressing to your vegetable salad. Those who are obese should exclude it from their diet completely. 

    The reason why the Mediterranean diet was good prevention against obesity and heart disease was due to the high intake of raw vegetables and fruit. 

Health is our wealth

    Health is one of the rare things we cannot buy. Still, we can earn it through healthy living. Dr. Fuhrman says, ‘’Good health is not merely the absence of disease. Good health assumes protection from disease in the future and can be predicted only by a healthy lifestyle and diet.’’ 

    Chronic health conditions require taking several types of drugs for life. The truth is, a significant number of illnesses are controllable and reversible with the diet the author designed for his patients. Dr. Fuhrman is a physician who sees around 5,000 patients per year. Many of them followed his six-week diet to combat depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, headaches, and many other illnesses. ‘’The results I see with my patients are thrilling. Diseases that are considered irreversible I see reversed on a daily basis,’’ writes Dr. Fuhrman. After eating the food he recommends, most of his patients were able to stop using medication for their conditions, as they no longer needed them. One of them was John Pawlikowski. He had a history of steadily worsening angina, and his chest pains were increasing. Pawlikowski was on two blood pressure medications. His cholesterol was 218, and he weighed 180 pounds. Only a few weeks after following the nutritional plan Dr. Fuhrman gave him, the chest pain disappeared, his weight dropped to 152, and his cholesterol was 161. Eventually, he stopped using medication for his condition altogether.

    More than 100 million adults in the U.S. live with diabetes, and they take regular drug therapy to control it. Dr. Fuhrman claims his dietary plan can help diabetic patients get rid of it forever. The case of patient Gerardo Petito confirms his claim, and he is not the only one. When Petito came to Dr. Fuhrman’s office, he had been on insulin for seven years. Ten months after his first visit, he had lost 66 pounds, and the tests showed he no longer had diabetes. 

    These examples show that our body has a predisposition to be healthy. We just need to nurture it with the right food. 

The six-week weight loss plan

The six-week program Dr. Fuhrman’s patients follow to lose weight is based on several facts. First, that low-nutrient food is bad for our health. Second, that eating a large number of animal products causes many diseases. Last, that unrefined plant foods are rich in nutrients and offer the best protection against illnesses. The greatest benefit of this program isn’t just losing weight, but also improving your well-being. So, if you want to commit to it, include these types of foods to your daily menu:

  1. Raw vegetables. You can eat them in large amounts with a goal of one pound daily. The great thing is, the more you eat them, the more weight you will lose. Recommended vegetables are snow peas, sweet red peppers, raw peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, and sprouts. Remember, salad is your main dish: eat it first for lunch and dinner. 
  2. Steamed and cooked green vegetables. The same applies here: you can eat them as much as you can. Nonetheless, be aware that some nutrients are sensitive to heat. To make the most out of vegetables, always eat them raw. Examples include string beans, broccoli, artichokes, asparagus, zucchini, kale, collards, cabbage, brussels sprouts, turnip greens, escarole, beet greens, spinach, dandelion greens, broccoli raab, eggplant, and peppers.
  3. Beans and legumes. Eat at least one cup of legumes daily. They stabilize blood sugar, weaken your desire for sweets, and prevent midafternoon cravings.
  4. Fresh fruit. Eat at least four fresh fruits in a day. You can drink freshly squeezed juice, but keep in mind that it lacks fiber. Frozen fruits are allowed, but not canned ones, as they are sweetened. 
  5. Starchy vegetables and whole grains. Those who want to lose weight rapidly and those with diabetes should avoid starchy vegetables and whole grains. Others can include them in their diet. Soaking whole grains one day before cooking will increase their nutritional value and shorten the cooking time. 
  6. Nuts and seeds. One ounce of nuts and seeds a day will provide you valuable nutrients. You can add them to your salad to enrich its taste. Avoid commercially packaged nuts. Eat them raw or after they are lightly toasted.
  7. Spices, herbs, and condiments. You can add all spices and herbs to your meals, except salt. 

Adopting the ‘’life plan’’

    The six-week plan is designed for those who need to lose weight and deal with diseases. After completing it, the goal should be sustaining a slim weight and good health. For that purpose, Dr. Fuhrman modified the weight loss program and made a ‘’life plan’’ that everyone should follow. The basic rules to follow are: 

  1. The 90 Percent Rule. Your diet should consist of 90% unrefined plant food. That means raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, and all other foods that are a part of the six-week plan.
  2. Animal products and processed foods as condiments. If you desire to eat meat, eat it occasionally and in small amounts. You can eat chicken or turkey once a week, and beef even less frequently. Use animal products as condiments to add flavor to your vegetarian meal. 
  3. Dairy products. Limit your intake of dairy to 12 ounces per week. Use nonfat yogurt and avoid the ones that are fruit-flavored as they contain sugar.
  4. Grain-based diet. Avoid rice, potatoes, and whole grains. To add a variety to your diet, you can eat whole-grain pasta or bean pasta. They are better than those made of white flour. When it comes to rice, brown is a better choice compared to white.

The life plan enables you to eat almost everything you want, as long as the dominant food that you eat is not nutrient-deprived. You can use small cookies or candy bars to reward yourself from time to time. A cheat every once in a while is okay if it is in moderation. 

If you think it will be challenging to commit to this plan forever, you are wrong. After a while, your taste buds will change and become more sensitive to healthy foods, and your need to eat unhealthy foods will go away. Finally, a plant-based diet will make you feel true hunger. As a typical American meal is nutrient-poor, people have cravings and often eat without being able to satisfy their primary need for nutrients. Therefore, they often mistake that discomfort for actual hunger.

Final Notes

    The speed of modern life has made us neglect our most valuable asset - our health. Sadly, many of us have forgotten what the primary purpose of food is, and we often eat to comfort ourselves. ‘’Eat to Live’’ helps us change that. By being a nutritional guide for losing weight and keeping it optimal, this book gives us a valuable lesson: exceptional health and a perfect weight are not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice.

12min Tip

    Take care of your body: nurture it with foods rich with nutrients. Take a break from healthy living occasionally and reward yourself with a small candy.

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Who wrote the book?

Joel Fuhrman is a family physician, nutritional researcher, and author. He is an expert on nutrition and natural healing. Apart from the book ‘’Eat to Live,’’ he has written several other nutriti... (Read more)

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